Debbie Taylor On Five Things You Need To Be A Highly Effective Leader During Uncertain & Turbulent…

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Debbie Taylor On Five Things You Need To Be A Highly Effective Leader During Uncertain & Turbulent Times

Have a clear plan, and be as open, honest and approachable as is possible. Actively listening to your staff and hearing their worries and concerns make space to hear ideas and solutions, as people begin to feel more invested and in turn, will buy-in to future outcomes.

As part of our series about the “Five Things You Need To Be A Highly Effective Leader During Turbulent Times”, we had the pleasure of interviewing Debbie Taylor.

Debbie Taylor is a highly effective and dynamic industry leader who has achieved outstanding results through a collaborative and coaching style of leadership. She has a sustained track record and extensive experience having held prestigious roles across Tourism, Hospitality and Real Estate in UK, Europe, and the US, at General Manager, Managing Director and Board level

Today, as a highly accredited and experienced executive coach, team coach and leadership consultant, she inspires individuals and teams to achieve their full potential — maximizing business results.

Thank you so much for your time! I know that you are a very busy person. Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?

I started my career in the hospitality sector, climbing the career ladder, and fulfilling a number of varied roles from General Manager to board member before starting my business coaching consultancy.

I experienced all sides of business operations and challenges first-hand, with a portfolio of five-star luxury hotels including the Old Course Hotel, St Andrews Balmoral in Edinburgh

For more than two decades I learned the relationship between management and leadership, and how the latter is essential to bringing team members along with you on the journey to deliver seamless and exceptional customer service. It starts by being able to listen and understand your biggest business asset — your internal customer — your staff.

It’s a lesson that I know helps my coaching clients work on being motivated and focused on achieving true measures of success amidst global turmoil and change.

It has been said that our mistakes can be our greatest teachers. Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

I am an optimistic person and so at the start of my time as a leader, I had a tendency to over-promise with of course a risk of not delivering on expectations. I once told the owner of a business that we would achieve some pretty unrealistic sales targets only to then have to do a U-turn when we did not achieve them. That was after quite a few sleepless nights and failing to listen to the input of my team.

What I learned from that is to always be realistic rather than optimistic in business, and don’t overpromise in anything — it can result in disappointment and frustration, Finally openness, and honesty is always key — even if it’s potentially not good news!

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?

A standout leader for me was a gentleman called David Pantin, who was my MD during my time with Rocco Forte Hotels. He showed belief in me, challenged me, stretched me, and invested in my development. David promoted me to my first role as a Hotel General Manager and supported my success, I am still in touch with him today, 18 years on and I will always be grateful to David for being an inspirational role model.

Extensive research suggests that “purpose-driven businesses” are more successful in many areas. When your organization started, what was its vision, what was its purpose?

Coaching, when done correctly, is extremely purpose-driven as it enables personal and professional development among business leaders, which in turn provides a positive impact that embeds into organizations. It’s important to reflect on how the process itself gives purpose to individuals who in turn take forward accountable actions, supporting them in achieving their career and business goals

Of course, to create the space to do this, I have to build a relationship of trust and confidentiality with my client, to ensure the opportunity to think, feel and act towards goals comes from a secure and safe place.

Thank you for all that. Let’s now turn to the main focus of our discussion. Can you share with our readers a story from your own experience about how you lead your team during uncertain or difficult times?

When I first became a leader I believed that I was expected to have all the knowledge, the answers and the solutions. What I quickly realised was that as a leader my purpose was to fully utilise the extensive skills, knowledge and experience of my team. Our aim is to collaborate and find a collective approach that we could all buy into and that we can execute with commitment and autonomy. An example of this was during the financial crisis in 2008 when we had to find significant cost savings across the business. Sharing this challenge with my team brought fresh ideas, different perspectives and collective buy-in to what needed to be done.

Did you ever consider giving up? Where did you get the motivation to continue through your challenges? What sustains your drive?

I think that every experience is valuable and can provide insights into the direction or changes you need to make. This includes learning from negative or toxic work environments that I have encountered in my career, which can cause stress and anxiety and drain your energy. By reflecting on these situations, I have been able to identify the type of work environment and leadership style that I aspire towards and in which I want to work Through working with my clients, I have also noticed that negative experiences can foster empathy and humility and lead to a better understanding of their employees’ lives and their needs ultimately resulting in the development of positive leadership behaviours.

I’m an author and I believe that books have the power to change lives. Do you have a book in your life that impacted you and inspired you to be an effective leader? Can you share a story?

One of my favourite books is the Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni. What I love most about this book is that highlights the importance of building trust with individuals and teams. Trust is the foundation of any positive relationship and only when trust is established can you build commitment, accountability and subsequently results.

Simon Sinek is one of my favourite authors, his common sense and practical approach is relatable.

What would you say is the most critical role of a leader during challenging times?

To be a good leader, one has to inspire, support and effectively communicate with their team and create a shared vision for success. The first step towards achieving this is by actively listening, asking thoughtful and relevant questions, and welcoming or honest feedback. This allows you to set out a road map for success with clear measurable business objectives that allow you to track progress, keep on track measure and evaluate your progress. One of the most significant signs of progress in challenging times is when staff feel invested enough to engage in constructive conflict, leading to a shared resolution and commitment

When the future seems so uncertain, what is the best way to boost morale? What can a leader do to inspire, motivate and engage their team?

Boosting morale in the workplace can be achieved through various means, but taking a long-term sustained approach is crucial. Providing competitive pay and offering flexible working arrangements, wherever possible, demonstrates that as a leader, you value and trust your employees. Additionally, making an effort to get to know each team member on an individual level, understanding their personal lives outside of work, and showing humility and appreciation for the little things can have a significant impact. For instance, when interacting with the customer service or hospitality team, it’s essential to learn and use everyone’s names and to take a personal interest in them to foster a sense of belonging and recognition. Investing in personal development and succession planning is also critical.

Recognising, and rewarding individual and team contribution is always key.

What is the best way to communicate difficult news to one’s team and customers?

Put yourself in their shoes. How would you like to be treated? It’s important to explain the rationale behind a decision and allow the person to share their thoughts so that they feel heard and validated. I believe that it is so important to respect the feelings of others and allow time for questions and emotional reactions. It’s crucial to embody leadership values that remain a constant through the good and bad times, including taking responsibility for the information being communicated and the way in which it is shared.

How can a leader make plans when the future is so unpredictable?

Focus on supporting your staff and strengthening team resilience amidst uncertainty. Think beyond the walls of your organisation to the lives of the humans you are working with, to ensure they feel valued and supported whatever a future outcome may be. Strengthening their resilience will equip them for change, while bringing out the best in your team’s performance, giving you a better chance of weathering the storm.

Is there a “number one principle” that can help guide a company through the ups and downs of turbulent times?

Have a clear plan, and be as open, honest and approachable as is possible. Actively listening to your staff and hearing their worries and concerns make space to hear ideas and solutions, as people begin to feel more invested and in turn, will buy-in to future outcomes.

Can you share 3 or 4 of the most common mistakes you have seen other businesses make during difficult times? What should one keep in mind to avoid that?

Probably linked to listening or lack of it — failing to invest in training and development for personal and professional resilience. It can be hard to show vulnerability and ask for help, which is why a highly qualified and accredited coach can provide real benefits in enabling a strategy that is motivated by opportunity as much as risk. Being prepared to take daily steps towards your goals takes work into much more positive realms, shifting perspectives from crisis to enjoying the challenge. I think another area I see restricting businesses in difficult times is a lack of preparedness for change due to the desire to control outcomes. It is better to build resilience than seek to control, the latter can lead to toxic work environments.

Here is the primary question of our discussion. Based on your experience and success, what are the five most important things a business leader should do to lead effectively during uncertain and turbulent times? Please share a story or an example for each.

Building trust, for example, matching words with actions that are tailored to the individual’s needs. Secondly, get to know your staff. This includes life outside of work, their motivations, ambitions, family, and interests. Thirdly, generating a supportive culture that enables healthy conflict and ultimately business growth. Next, ensure you are aware of the difference between leadership and management. The two are not the same. A leadership coach can help you make this distinction and put a plan in place to elevate your leadership skills. Finally, develop your listening skills and trust your instincts. Don’t solely be motivated by salvaging the bottom line — your staff are your biggest asset and only by starting here will your business move forwards.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

Ask yourself “What do you want the legacy of your career to be?” and“How do you want to be thought of and remembered?” For me, this has always been to be a leader who operates with humility and passion and inspires and supports others to develop.”

How can our readers further follow your work?

Follow me on LinkedIn or contact me via my website

Thank you so much for sharing these important insights. We wish you continued success and good health!

Debbie Taylor On Five Things You Need To Be A Highly Effective Leader During Uncertain & Turbulent… was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.